It seems as though each generation before mine was so cool, so fresh and exciting and full of culture that I wish I could have experienced. Watching Dazed and Confused is almost enough inspiration for me to build a time machine and head back to the seventies. Still, I think I am glad that I grew up in the 90's. This feeling is based off of pure nostalgia though, and I'm sure I am not alone.

For me, some of the greatest memories of my childhood (unfortunately) are the vague recollections I have of watching television. The menu du jour for me consisted of a healthy dose of Nickelodeon, weekday Wheel of Fortune and nightly dashes of some (BAM!) Emeril Live. Though I have trouble recalling certain shows (like The Adventures of Pete & Pete), I remember the majority of the greats. Kablam!, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Doug, Hey Arnold...the list goes on and on. I'll take these shows to the grave, and I feel like myself and other 90's kids have a unique bond over the ridiculous television programming that was fed to us.

Then, Nickelodeon shows from the past started appearing on Netflix and late-night tv. The announcement of Nick Rewind was just enough to pique my interest, so I sat down to repeat history in the form of Hey Arnold, Kenan and Kel and Doug. But what happened next was an unforeseen lesson in nostalgia, a lesson I now continually apply to my life.

Pinky and My Brain

As soon as I started revisiting the television of my youth, I began to notice that I didn't enjoy it. Not at all, actually. The shows are obviously made for children, so I did not expect to be wholly entertained, but I soon felt a sense of regret at wasting so much of my life watching these absurd shows. I became resentful for staying inside to watch these shows instead of enjoying the outdoors and getting more much-needed physical activity. 

It is amazing how the brain works in favor of itself. Now, the fact that I don't like Nickelodeon shows anymore is not a big deal in and of itself. However, it opened my eyes to the brain's ability to change our perception of things over time, and to selectively remember the good but forget the bad. What I mean is, we have this sense of nostalgia because we remember the good times and forget the instances we did not enjoy. 

it's like the ex-girlfriend who you run into somewhere, and instinctively the both of you decide to have another go at something that had already failed for good reason. Your mind is only remembering the positive aspects of the failed relationship, not the miniscule things that annoyed you while you were together or all the time you spent arguing over matters of little significance. This happened to me, and like the Nickelodeon shows, I wish I hadn't come back to try again.

Some time after this, I had moved away, a good twelve hour drive from my hometown. I had only been to visit once in almost a year, and was feeling so homesick and missing my friends and family that I convinced myself to move back home. After the initial buzz had worn off, I realized that again my mind subconsciously promoted the positive memories and subdued any negative feelings I had for my hometown. Two weeks into the move and I realized that I was already tired of the people and places that I had longed for. 

Heed my experiences, and let the past stay in the past. Nickelodeon shows from the 90's belong in the 90's. If there's and Ex- before a girlfriend, it belongs there for reason. And before you take any emotion-based action, question whether your mind is giving you its own version of your experiences.